October 5, 1969: Mets score 11 runs to beat Braves in Game 2 of NLCS

This article was written by Thomas J. Brown Jr.

Tommie AgeeThe New York Mets entered the 1969 National League playoffs with their hopes riding on the arms of their young and talented pitching staff. But they won the first game of the series with their bats. After the Braves tagged Mets ace Tom Seaver for eight hits, including two home runs, Seaver’s teammates saved his victory when they scored five runs in the top of the eighth to shock the Braves, 9-5, and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

A crowd of 50,270 showed up at Fulton County Stadium to see how the “good pitch, weak hit”1 Mets would fare in the second game of the series. The Braves started Ron Reed, who finished the season with an 18-10 record and a 3.47 ERA. The right-hander beat the Mets twice during the season, including a 10-inning shutout on August 8.

Mets leadoff hitter Tommie Agee singled off Reed to start the game. It was Agee’s first hit of the series after the center fielder struck out three times in the first game. Reed walked Wayne Garrett. After the baserunners pulled off a double steal, Reed walked Cleon Jones to load the bases. He struck out the next two batters and it appeared he would get out of the inning when Ed Kranepool hit a groundball to Felix Millan. But the ball took a “crazy high bounce off the second baseman’s glove”2 for a single and the Mets grabbed the lead when Agee scored.

Left-hander Jerry Koosman took the mound for the Mets. The southpaw finished the season with a 17-9 record and a 2.28 ERA. Koosman walked leadoff batter Millan. He then caught Tony Gonzalez looking for the first of his five strikeouts in the game. The frame ended when Hank Aaron hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Mets expanded their lead in the second. Reed walked Koosman with one out. Agee then homered and the Mets were ahead by three runs. Reed got Garrett out on a groundball back to the mound. But Jones doubled and came home on Art Shamsky’s single. “When Aaron threw neither wisely nor well towards the Mets dugout, Shamsky steamed around second where he ran into Gil Garrido playing statuesque shortstop.”3 The umpires waved Shamsky to third, charging Aaron with an error and Garrido with obstruction. Braves manager Lum Harris sent Reed packing and brought in Paul Doyle. Doyle struck out Ken Boswell to get the final out.

After Koosman got the Braves out in order in the second, the Mets continued to build on their lead in the top of the third, thanks to the Braves’ “all-thumbs defense.”4 With one out, Jerry Grote reached on an error by first baseman Orlando Cepeda, who dropped the throw from Millan on Grote’s groundball. Grote scored when Bud Harrelson doubled down the left-field line. Harrelson scurried home three batters later when Garrett singled up the middle to give Koosman a six-run lead.

Koosman allowed two baserunners in the third but neither scored. In the top of the fourth, the Mets jumped on Milt Pappas, the third Atlanta pitcher, for a pair of runs to extend their lead. Pappas allowed a single to Shamsky to start the frame. Boswell followed and hit a home run to push the Mets lead to eight runs.

The Braves scored in their half of the fourth on Rico Carty’s double and Cepeda’s single. That Braves run was offset when the Mets scored on Pappas again in the fifth, the run coming on Garrett’s double and Jones’s singlethe left fielder’s second hit of the game.

Down by eight runs, the Braves offense finally came to life in the fifth. Koosman got the first two outs before things fell apart for him after Millan singled to right. Koosman then walked Gonzalez and Aaron unloaded a three-run home run, his second of the series.

Koosman continued to struggle, walking Carty. Cepeda’s double left two runners in scoring position. When Clete Boyer singled both runners home, Koosman was finished. Mets manager Gil Hodges called on Ron Taylor to get the third out, which he did when Bob Didier lined out to second.

Phil Pepe of New York’s Daily News wrote that “it was prosperity that proved Koosman’s downfall.” Koosman echoed those words, saying, “I started to tighten up between innings. I lost control of my curveball because I cooled off while we were scoring all those runs.”5

With Cecil Upshaw, the fifth Braves pitcher, now on the mound, the Mets added to their lead in the top of the seventh. Upshaw walked Agee with one out. The fleet center fielder wasted no time in stealing second. Garrett’s fly ball pushed him to third.

“With Jones, his neighbor from Mobile, Alabama, and his closest friend, at bat, Agee decided to steal home. But Jones swung at the pitch, hitting a long line drive that hooked just foul. His bat also just missed Agee as he ran by Jones. Agee and Jones were so shaken up by the near-accident that they walked around slowly for a while, composing themselves.”6 Two pitches later, Jones hit a home run. It gave the Mets 11 runs for the day and Jones three RBIs to go with three hits.

Braves fans, showing their frustration, went after various banners that were being held aloft by Mets fans. “Met standard bearers courageously defended their banners, but they were outnumbered, by the end of the seventh, only Braves banners waved.”7

Tug McGraw came out of the bullpen and pitched the final three innings for the Mets. McGraw allowed one baserunner in the seventh when Carty reached first on an error by Harrelson. After setting down the Braves in order in the eighth, the southpaw threw four straight balls to walk Millan when he led off the ninth. Then he threw three straight balls to Gonzalez. “I missed with seven fastballs so I went to the curve,” he said later.8 It didn’t work and Gonzalez singled, bringing Aaron to the plate.

McGraw got ahead 0-and-2 on Aaron. Then “Aaron fouled one off and Tug remembered that earlier, he had Aaron set up for a screwball in a crucial situation and struck him out with a fastball. This time, Tug had Aaron set up for a screwball and he threw a screwball. Aaron took it for strike three and the rest of the wind went out of the Braves’ sails.”9 When Carty hit into a double play to end the game, the Braves were in a two-game deficit and now had to win three in a row at New York.

“If anyone had told me that we would score six and five runs off Seaver and Koosman — in a span of 12 innings yet — I’d have figured we’d sweep the series in three games,” Aaron said after the game. “We still feel like we’re in it. We know we have to sweep three in Shea Stadium now — with airplanes flying over your head and all — but they haven’t won it yet.”10

Dick Young of the Daily News wrote that “veteran ballplayers agree that somebody up there must love the Mets. They also say Gil Hodges has something to do with it.” Seaver, apparently in agreement with Young, told reporters that “God is alive and living in New York.”11

“You have to hand it to them,” said Braves utility player Bob Aspromonte. “And the guy who put it all together is number 14 [Hodges]. What a great job he has done. You look in the paper and see a key man put in the lineup almost every day, a man who is there for a reason, and most of the time he comes through. Most clubs go with eight men, and only come in with somebody in an emergency. But Gil moves them around and they deliver. He’s fantastic.”12

Aspromonte might have been thinking of McGraw with his three stellar innings of relief. Or was he possibly referring to Jones with his seven total bases and three runs scored? As the Braves headed north to Shea Stadium, they had to wonder who would be the next player to frustrate their hopes of a championship when Hodges put together the next Mets lineup.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, I used the Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball-Almanac.com, and Retrosheet.org websites for box-score, player, team, and season pages, pitching and batting game logs, and other pertinent material.





1 Phil Pepe, “Marvelous Mets Pound Braves,” Daily News (New York), October 6, 1969: 68.

2 Leonard Koppett, “Mets Beat Braves, Lead Playoffs 2-0,” New York Times, October 6, 1969: 1.

3 Red Smith, “Mets Clobber Braves, 11-6 — Indecent to Say More,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, October 6, 1969: 1B.

4 Wayne Minshew, “Braves Lose, 11-6, Mets Need One More to Take the Title,” Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1969: 1C.

5 Pepe.

6 Koppett.

7 Jesse Outlar, “Long Day — Now Shea,” Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1969: 4C.

8 Pepe.

9 Pepe.

10 Charlie Roberts, “We’re Still In It — Hank,” Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1969: 2C.

11 Dick Young, “Mets Got Schmaltz — You Can Say That Again,” Daily News (New York), October 6, 1969: 68.

12 Young.

Additional Stats

New York Mets 11
Atlanta Braves 6
Game 2, NLCS

Atlanta Stadium
Atlanta, GA


Box Score + PBP:

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